Parents eager to hear more about the proposed new Educate Together second-level school for Drogheda filled the main function room at the Boyne Valley on Tuesday evening (April 12th). Speakers from Educate Together National Office gave a presentation on their vision for the management of the new school which was very well received.
Local political representatives were also out in force with Labour TD Ged Nash and Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd, along with representatives for Gerry Adams TD and MEP Mairead McGuinness all attending. This cross party political support has been a feature of the Educate Together campaign, which was endorsed by candidates from all parties at the recent General Election.
Educate Together’s patronage at second-level is founded on their ambition to reform both the organisation of and curriculum taught at second level. Their ‘Blueprint for Second-Level’ that details their approach has been cited by many educationalists as the way forward for Irish education. It was this vision, presented by Educate Together CEO Paul Rowe and Education Officer Ann Ryan that made such an impact with the crowd.
Speaking on the night Paul Rowe said ‘There is general consensus that the second-level education system needs significant reform. Our needs as a 21st century economy are not being served by an education system enslaved by teaching to a test. The rest of the world has moved on and we had better start catching up. We have a responsibility to equip our children through their education with the appropriate skills to thrive in our massively diverse world. We are not doing so and will have little claim to a ‘smart’ economy if we don’t start now”.
Educate Together is not a lone voice in educational reform but it is the first Education patron to present a full methodology for how a 21st century school would work, and how new thinking in teaching approaches would be implemented. Its reform of the Junior Cycle, also a key programme for the NCCA, includes the concept of an integrated curriculum. This approach allows for the integration of subjects where for example maths, geography and economics could be combined in a lesson illustrating the impact of the Japanese Tsunami. The same curriculum is taught without the rote learning methods enforced by a pure exam preparation approach.
The ideas presented at the meeting certainly drew enthusiastic support from the parents attending. Chairman of the local support group that organised the event Elaine Hanley said, ‘The group is really heartened by the interest shown by the many parents that came along, and their feedback was very positive. We’re excited about the future. We will keep talking to parents and the wider community. We will grow our expression of interest list and be prepared when the Minister announces the process for selecting the school in Drogheda. This school will be for every child in Drogheda, not just those who attended an Educate Together primary school. Parents are welcome to get in touch with us via facebook or our website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.